Arab Spring - definition• Grassroots revolutionary wave of sustained campaigns involving protests, strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies throughout the Arab World.• The participants goals are to bring about regime change and/or changes in how the government is running the country.• Resistance to strict government censorship of the internet.• Resistance to distribution of wealth in country.• Many demonstrations have met with violent responses from the government or pro-government militias.• Started December 18, 2010
Impact of Arab Spring• Leaders toppled by it:• Tunisia• Egypt• Libya• Yemen• Failed:• Bahrain (thanks to Saudi intervention)• Syria (where it has devolved into a Civil War)• Has occurred in varying degrees of intensity in EVERY Arab country.
Article – Rise of the Islamists• The author makes two key arguments:• 1. Islamists have been willing to compromise• 2. The USA needs to engage Islamists now to get them to respect key Western interests which are:• Advance the Arab-Israeli peace process• Countering Iran• Combating terrorism• Creating Civil liberties, equality, and rule by law• As a class we will read the article – we will be focusing on finding the author’s evidence to support these two key arguments.
Rise of the Islamists• An Islamist is a Muslim who wants democracy/republicanism. However, they want a heavy dose of Islamic Law infused with their version of democracy/republicanism.
What the West wants to see …• Western democracy prefers heavy infusion of secular law.• That being said, early US democracy/republican governments had a heavy dose of Christian theology incorporated with them too.• Only after trial and error did the USA remove most elements of secular law from it’s democracy.• Essentially the USA is telling the Middle East – “we’ve been there – trust us – do it this way” …
Islamists and Foreign Policy• They want foreign influence out of the Middle East.• They are willing to work with foreign powers – BUT on an equal footing .• Numerous Islamist groups have had ties to terrorism.
Islamists Concern USA?• “Washington tends to question whether Islamists’ religious commitments can coexist with respect for democracy, pluralism, and women’s rights. But what the United states really fears are the kinds of foreign policies such groups might pursue. Unlike the Middle East’s pro- Western autocracies, Islamists have a distinctive … conception of an Arab world that is confident, independent, and willing to project influence beyond it’s borders”.• Shadi Hamid Rise of the Islamists
In simpler terms:• The USA concerns are:• Can Islam coexist with the ideas of liberty, equality, and freedom?• Will the USA and other Western countries lose influence in the Middle East?• What will happen to the predictability and stability of the Middle East?
Coalition governments• Important side note:• One thing is certain about whatever happens in the Middle East democratically, democracy there will require coalition governments.• This is an unusual concept for Americans because we are used to a two party system.• Most democratic governments in the world function through coalition governments.• What this means is there are more than two parties in the country and the only way for the government to function is for the parties to temporarily form alliances with each other.
Muslim Brotherhood• They exist all over the Arab Middle East.• It’s an Islamist organization that exists in every Arab country with the goal of establishing democracy in their country .• They are strongest in Egypt.
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